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Useful/High End analog gear for film/tv music? Dynamics Processors (HW)
Old 17th February 2019
  #1
Here for the gear
Useful/High End analog gear for film/tv music?

Hi Slutz, long time lurker, rare poster here. I'm a film composer who is looking for some fun gear to start working in a more hybrid style. I already have a wonderfully treated room, great monitors and converters, great tracking pres/compressors and all the plugins and sample libraries that anyone could ask for..so now i'm looking to blow some $$ on hardware. Most of my music is shipped off and mixed by a score mixer but I'm occasionally doing smaller projects where i'm just printing stereo mixes. For these situations, I've been using plug-ins (UA Vari Mu, UA SSL G-Comp, Fab-filter Saturn, etc) to warm up and glue the stereo bus and now I'm looking to add some sparkle with analog gear. Because of my work flow (writing tons of cues with multiple rounds of revisions) I'm thinking that one or two pieces of easily recallable gear that can live on the stereo bus will be the best (I suppose fattening up ITB synths and VI's would be useful as well). Trying to keep it under 7k. Here's what I'm investigating:

LTLO Silver Bullet
Black Box HG-2
SSL Fusion
Hendyamps Michelangelo and Pollock
Manley Vari Mu
IGS Tubecore
Overstayer MAS
SSL Style bus compressor
Neve Portico II MBP
Tegler Schwerkraftmaschine and Creme
WES audio Dione

I'd love to get something that adds color that I can't easily achieve ITB. 3D vibes over vintage vibes are preferred. Anyone working in film/tv using this kinda stuff? Other suggestions and workflow thoughts are very welcome.
Old 17th February 2019
  #2
Gear Addict
 

I do some scoring stuff as well (mostly using high quality sampling synths mixed with some live instruments). One trick I've been using lately is running the strings and synths through a pair of REDD.47 preamps with the pad on. It seems to really make them sound a lot more "real" and together.
Old 17th February 2019
  #3
Gear Addict
 
bzone's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jjb0737 View Post
Hi Slutz, long time lurker, rare poster here. I'm a film composer who is looking for some fun gear to start working in a more hybrid style. I already have a wonderfully treated room, great monitors and converters, great tracking pres/compressors and all the plugins and sample libraries that anyone could ask for..so now i'm looking to blow some $$ on hardware. Most of my music is shipped off and mixed by a score mixer but I'm occasionally doing smaller projects where i'm just printing stereo mixes. For these situations, I've been using plug-ins (UA Vari Mu, UA SSL G-Comp, Fab-filter Saturn, etc) to warm up and glue the stereo bus and now I'm looking to add some sparkle with analog gear. Because of my work flow (writing tons of cues with multiple rounds of revisions) I'm thinking that one or two pieces of easily recallable gear that can live on the stereo bus will be the best (I suppose fattening up ITB synths and VI's would be useful as well). Trying to keep it under 7k. Here's what I'm investigating:

LTLO Silver Bullet
Black Box HG-2
SSL Fusion
Hendyamps Michelangelo and Pollock
Manley Vari Mu
IGS Tubecore
Overstayer MAS
SSL Style bus compressor
Neve Portico II MBP
Tegler Schwerkraftmaschine and Creme
WES audio Dione

I'd love to get something that adds color that I can't easily achieve ITB. 3D vibes over vintage vibes are preferred. Anyone working in film/tv using this kinda stuff? Other suggestions and workflow thoughts are very welcome.


Unfairchild and Overstayer 8755D
Old 18th February 2019
  #4
Gear Addict
 

I'm looking into things like this right now for myself and my girlfriend, who's also a composer (I'm not, just an AE). The louder than liftoff silver bullet sounds really intriguing to me. One of the creators, Dr Bill, is a gs member, composer and AE. I'd shoot him a message and see what he thinks about your case, but I bet it's right up your alley!
Old 18th February 2019
  #5
Here for the gear
Thanks, everyone for your suggestions. I feel like maybe this post should be in the film scoring area but who knows?! Ryan, I will ping Dr. Bill. Anyone else who is lurking on this post, please spill the beans...I'd love to hear your input even if you are not a film composer.
Old 18th February 2019
  #6
Gear Addict
 

Here's another idea. I went to a demo by Chris Mara who reconditions and sells analog tape machines out of Nashville. He also has a studio and runs mixes through tape for people for about $25 a piece. Might be worth trying for some things, but not a magic bullet. Not that any one piece is...
Old 18th February 2019
  #7
Gear Nut
 
maxhype's Avatar
 

I own the Silver Bullet and the Neve MBP and I couldn't recommend that high-end pair more highly. Everything comes out of them sounding phenomenal. However, I work exclusively with hardware synths, so I haven't tried them for warming up VSTs. If that's the goal you might consider some heavy tube color (maybe the Black Box Analog unit or Vari-mu).

EDIT: Should have mentioned I do pop/rock production, not film-scoring.
Old 18th February 2019
  #8
Lives for gear
 

3D is going to be more mixing technique for ITB or using an analog mixer since you are using mostly samples. Warm can be some of the gear mentioned but one inexpensive method that can give you lots of color / warmth to your samples is re-amping through a tube amp and micing. Keep in mind the horrendous amount of compression broadcast will add on their end so going light on compression will likely net a better overall sound to the end listener.
Old 18th February 2019
  #9
Several Hollywood film/scoring guys like the FCS P4S ME and P4S SE compressors. Fits your purpose and well under budget at $4,750 USD + shipping.

Good luck in your search!
Roger
Old 18th February 2019
  #10
Gear Guru
 
drBill's Avatar
jjb - you asked for my opinion.... here goes. Sorry if I'm wandering around a bit. Not enough coffee yet....

First - as you well know, but which may be unfamiliar to others - WORKFLOW is king for the film composer. As important as it is, sound comes second I'm afraid. Your workflow has to be smooth and streamlined.... Many suggestions that you might get are sonically valid, but unfortunately, out of the question in the heat of film deliveries.

If you don't have to deliver in 5.1+ stems, analog gear on the mix bus can work miracles IMO. Even if I'm mixing 5.1+, I'm still using outboard gear in a hybrid fashion on as many individual tracks as possible - although generally not on the 5.1+ stem busses due to track width. Even when mixing wide, I'll still insert my hardware on individual track inserts in the mixing templates. I have all my outboard named and coming up in my Pro Tools i/o setup page. Both as stereo and mono inserts. Its as fast to insert hardware as it is plug-ins. Actually, faster sometimes.

I currently have 96 i/o of DA/AD and use most of it during mixing for inserting EQ's, Compressors, Analog gear - like the aforementioned LTL Silver Bullets (I have 5 of them), Chroma's (4) and Mr. Focus's (2+)., along with other preferred outboard that I've accumulated over the years. The Silver Bullet is dead simple to use, elegant, and is essentially a 2 channel "console" - of the API and 80 series Neve variety. It's also coupled with some excellent filters and EQ. It's ALWAYS on my mix bus - even when writing. Usually in an API console cascaded into a Neve console configuration. Come mix time, it stays on the mix bus and is accompanied by another 4 + Silver Bullets on individual busses and tracks. In analyzing traditional studio sonics and workflow, multiple passes (something you may or may not be able to do in typical frenzied composer schedule) is super helpful. And really, it's the sound of classic analog tracked records.

As far as your potential list - the Manley Vari-Mu combined with the Silver Bullet is pretty magical in getting a mix out of that 2 dimensional digital thing and back into a three dimensional analog world. If you're doing more rhythmic musics, an SSL style compressor like the Serpent SB4001 or Audio-Scape GSSL comp or Obsidian can work well too.

You mention re-writes, recall-ability, and workflow. Certainly something that most (other than film composers) are not as concerned with as we are. For me, this is important, but maybe not as important as you might think. (Possibly) Here's why :

When I start a project, I put all my outboard into a "template" with the settings I've found over the years that are their strongest sweet spot. Then - I don't touch controls if at all possible - including the Silver Bullet on the mix bus which I'm mixing INTO - if at all possible during the entire project. There are times I just have to change it up due to wildly fluctuating gain scenario's on cues, but I try to deal with that as much as possible inside pro tools before exiting to the analog world.

EQ is the obvious trouble area in this scenario, but I tend to go to plugins for corrective EQ, and save the hardware EQ for more broad strokes so they can remain as untouched as possible. This allows me to jump back into a previously mixed cue with the same speed of plug ins - i.e. : instantaneously.

I also gravitate towards gear with "stepped" controls vs. continually variable pots. That way if I MUST make an EQ or other change, I'll just note something like : 12.5k up +6 on 550A's in the comments window in PT. Not as elegant as total recall, but it works well, and is fast. Especially as I rarely touch things during a project.

It took me awhile to find all the sweet spots of the various pieces I have, and I try if at all possible to LEAVE them set there, and not change them. (Much like some of the top mixers in the business do.) Instead - I mix INTO them, putting a trim plug-in in front of their hardware insert if I have to hit them harder - or not so hard - and making notes in Pro Tools "comments" window if changes MUST occur. More than ultimate control, I'm using particular pieces to impart their "flavor", overall "colour" or "movement" into a track. If I need additional control, more EQ, more compression, etc. I'll move to a different piece or add gear or hit up a plugin to tweak. I've still got the analog goodness of that piece in my mix.

If a particular piece won't work without serious tweaking of controls, I usually move on to something else, or use a plugin instead or in addition. I believe that having as much outboard as possible on all, or most, or as many tracks as I can gives a sonic advantage over guys who are writing 100% ITB with VSTi's and plug-ins. If nothing else, it sounds DIFFERENT.

If I can answer any further questions, just shout out. My hybrid system is critical to how I mix now. So much so that I recently sold my automated 120 input D&R OrionX console.

Cheers,

bp

Last edited by drBill; 18th February 2019 at 06:24 PM..
Old 18th February 2019
  #11
Gear Guru
 
drBill's Avatar
PS -

From a film / media composers perspective, this thread might be of interest. I started it a year and a half ago, and as you can see, although many do and are striving in that direction, not all subscribe to my analog philosophy. There are a couple heavy weight composers on that thread.

From a Composer's perspective - how important is it.....

Interesting perspectives. I'm still moving MORE into the analog world, not less.



Another useful, although extreeeeeeemely long thread :

Louder than Liftoff Silver Bullet first impressions

Last edited by drBill; 18th February 2019 at 07:15 PM..
Old 4 weeks ago
  #12
Here for the gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by maxhype View Post
I own the Silver Bullet and the Neve MBP and I couldn't recommend that high-end pair more highly. Everything comes out of them sounding phenomenal. However, I work exclusively with hardware synths, so I haven't tried them for warming up VSTs. If that's the goal you might consider some heavy tube color (maybe the Black Box Analog unit or Vari-mu).

EDIT: Should have mentioned I do pop/rock production, not film-scoring.
Do you use them in series or are you using Silver Bullet for warming the and the MBP just for 2bus?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #13
Here for the gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by drBill View Post

The Silver Bullet is dead simple to use, elegant, and is essentially a 2 channel "console" - of the API and 80 series Neve variety. It's also coupled with some excellent filters and EQ. It's ALWAYS on my mix bus - even when writing.
I'm guessing you are using an HDX rig? If not, how are you dealing with latency while monitoring through the hardware? I write in cubase and use a separate protools HD rig for video/DX/SFX and keeping track of the all the score cues on a giant timeline. I suppose I could print into protools and keep the hardware on the 2bus there pretty easily but the offline bouncing of cubase is magical.

Quote:
Originally Posted by drBill View Post
As far as your potential list - the Manley Vari-Mu combined with the Silver Bullet is pretty magical in getting a mix out of that 2 dimensional digital thing and back into a three dimensional analog world. If you're doing more rhythmic musics, an SSL style compressor like the Serpent SB4001 or Audio-Scape GSSL comp or Obsidian can work well too.
I've seen many a score mixer with mutliple vari-mu's strung together so gotta be something to em! With this pairing would you put the SB before the VM? Or the VM as an insert on the SB? Any opinion/experience on/with the IGS Tubecore? Seems like it does a lot of what the VM does but with the addition of M/S and a parallel mix knob. Do you have any mods on your VM (T-bar, etc)?

Quote:
Originally Posted by drBill View Post
If I need additional control, more EQ, more compression, etc. I'll move to a different piece or add gear or hit up a plugin to tweak. I've still got the analog goodness of that piece in my mix.
Certainly something to strive for...I've got a handful of outboard pre's and compressors I could start to make use of but most of my I/O is dedicated to outputting a 5.1 mix from cubase and another 5.1 mix from protools simultaneously. Even when writing in stereo all this stuff is hardwired. Guess it's time to get some more converters!

Thanks so much for taking the time drBill, I think i'm going to grab an SB, seems like a really useful tool (based on the longest thread in history on GS) and a couple of different bus compressors to demo.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #14
Gear Nut
 
maxhype's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jjb0737 View Post
Do you use them in series or are you using Silver Bullet for warming the and the MBP just for 2bus?
Its name notwithstanding the MBP is a fantastic tracking comp. I use them in series constantly with stereo sources of course and even double up with mono sources where I will go SB left -> MBP Left -> SB right -> MBP right -> Interface. It can get a bit funky since the SB preamps are stereo so you have to gain stage with a bit of forethought. But the sound between the two of them is weighted and solid with depth and punch for days.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #15
Gear Guru
 
drBill's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by jjb0737 View Post
I'm guessing you are using an HDX rig?
Yes. Using HDX.


Quote:
Originally Posted by jjb0737 View Post
I've seen many a score mixer with mutliple vari-mu's strung together so gotta be something to em! With this pairing would you put the SB before the VM? Or the VM as an insert on the SB? Any opinion/experience on/with the IGS Tubecore? Seems like it does a lot of what the VM does but with the addition of M/S and a parallel mix knob. Do you have any mods on your VM (T-bar, etc)?
I use it in a variety of configurations. If I had to say which mostly - Id say VariMu first, then Silver Bullet. But everyone has their own way that seems to suit their esthetic best. Before, After, on the Inserts.....


Quote:
Originally Posted by jjb0737 View Post
Guess it's time to get some more converters!
haha!! My mantra. I'm at 96 now, and will probably stay there, but I could see myself going up to 112 at some point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jjb0737 View Post
Thanks so much for taking the time drBill, I think i'm going to grab an SB, seems like a really useful tool (based on the longest thread in history on GS) and a couple of different bus compressors to demo.
LOL I think you'll really like it. I know I do. I've got 5 of em right now, and they're in constant use. Cheers, bp
Old 4 weeks ago
  #16
Here for the gear
 

I was looking for outboard gear with similiar effect (warmth) to spice up my ITB mixes, mainly looking at the 500 series stuff. The Rupert Neve 542 Tape Emulator might be interesting to you.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #17
Guitar Center

5 channel ssl maybe what you are looking for.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #18
Here for the gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by matherne View Post
Guitar Center

5 channel ssl maybe what you are looking for.
Ahh...this is a cool option. Seems they are discontinued now. Know of anything else like this? I know Neve makes one but it's quite pricey.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #19
Here for the gear
 

I was in that exact same predicament (film composer too) and went with the HG-2 Black Box. I love running virtual instruments through it, especially drums. It really does add that "life" back into the recordings of samples, since they so often lack harmonic content, especially that top end "air". I use it on my analog synths a lot as well, it's fantastic for that.

Do you use virtual synths a lot? Might get better bang for your buck with a real analog synth first. As a composer there is always a little voice in my head saying "buy things that make sound first."
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